Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Answering of Questions Asked

I had lots of interesting questions come in this week. Let's get to them!

Kimberly asked: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer who doesn't know where to begin?

First, I would highly recommend this really great blog site I found. The lady who writes it is kinda kooky, but her advice is rock-solid. Yes, I'm talking about me. Go down my sidebar until you get to the labels and read all the blogs marked "Writing Tips." They're quite fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Secondly, the fact that you want to write means that you must already have some kernel of an idea for a story. Start getting it all down on paper, be it a sentence that intrigues you, a scene, a whole chapter -- whatever it is that you've got floating around, get it down. It doesn't have to be perfect. You can edit it later. But for now, make sure you don't lose it.

Once you've done those two things, let me know and we'll go from there. Baby steps . . . baby steps . . .

Paulette said: I've always thought I was a TERRIBLE reader, because MY list wouldn't be 10 (completely read) books long if i included my entire LIFE in the count! So, I started thinking about it... because I love reading... I just don't get through many books. And I realized that it was simply because some authors do certain things that throw-me out of it... and it takes me forever to get back around, no matter how much I seem to love the story.

Then, those thoughts inspired me to start a new topic on my blog: "Reading 2 Writing"... where I talk about the exact things that throw me in the "published" books I'm reading right at the moment... and why I (as the reader) end up setting it aside for a time. (although, I'm sure you've read EVERYTHING I'm reading a million times over, a long while ago!) But I just realized that I am totally the perfect reader/writer to do the job! And my blog is fairly new, so I needed some cool and helpful topics to blog about anyway. So... I guess I'm gonna try to turn one of my weaknesses into a strength and help out any author who wants it along the way. Sticking to concepts only, of course... NO bashing aloud :) what do ya think?

I think that sounds like a great idea. Authors need feedback from readers. We need to know what's working and what's not. Sometimes we think we're being brilliant when we're actually being really stupid. So, yes, I think it would be fabulous. I'd come read it regularly.

Paulette also asked: It simply makes me wonder if having to sort through so much information from other books to find a NEW storyline, might actually hinder the origonal flow of a potential book, like putting it in a mazed box of restrictions... does that make sense? Have you ever tossed a potentially good idea (for a story) aside because of having read so many others, despite where it "could" have gone being unknown?

I only ask, because I constantly hear my author friends saying: "Oh, I had this great thing in my book, but.... whatsername used the same thing (or whatever), so now I have to throw it out... but it would have been sooo perfect!" (even if they had thought of it long before the book they had read was published.)

You know what, I've never read other books to see if they're like mine. I just read, and I just write. If I were to find a book that similar to mine in some ways, the odds are really out there that it would be exactly like mine. We're all different enough individuals that we bring different experiences and perspectives to the table.

Writing for the LDS market, which I'm very familiar with, I do already somewhat know what has and has not been done in it. I know that my book "Nothing to Regret" is the only book on the LDS market about the Japanese internment camps. Nationally, of course, there are many more, but none have the Tristi flavor. I just don't worry about duplication that much -- I concentrate on making my books "me."

Now, as far as throwing out an idea because it's already been done. Don't do that! Never, ever do that! If you love the idea, use it anyway. Just twist it up. Say you've got an idea for the story of a girl who goes to college to major in dance and breaks her ankle. You discover that another author (or possibly a sub-standard LDS movie) has already been done on the subject. Not a problem! Write the story and add some twists. Maybe she breaks her ankle because her rival iced the steps of her apartment. Maybe she gets attacked in the alley. Maybe she's really a pianist who breaks her arm. (These are all lame examples, but you know what I mean.) You do not have to can your idea just because something similar has been done. Just throw a twist in there, and then write it to the very best of your ability.

Karen said: I should be cleaning stem to stern, fore and aft, starboard to ??(what is the opposite of starboard?)

The opposite of starboard is port. Starboard is right, and port is left.

Here's a little trivia tidbit that you probably didn't want to know -- the expression "posh," as in, "A posh restaurant" or "a posh hotel" comes from "Port Out, Starboard Home." Back in the day, rich persons would sail from England to India or Egypt or some other exotic location and they would request that their stateroom be on the port side on the way out and the starboard side on the way home, so the angle of the sun would be the most favorable for their journey.

I'll see if I can come up with some other useless trivia for next time. Meanwhile, enjoy!


Rosehaven Cottage said...

Thank you, Tristi, for the explanation of the origin of "posh". My husband and I are really into stuff like that and had never heard that before. That is so cool that we know now thanks to you! Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Kimberly said...

Thank you so much for that enlightening answer. I need a few swift kicks to the rear. Looking forward to exploring your writing tips!

~paulette said...

no promises that the blog is anything glorious, professional, or entertaining :P it's rather new, so there's not much there... and i'm not necessarily a "rocket-scientist" in ANY field, to say the least. and i do a LOT of LONG rambling (as you can tell) but, you're definately welcome to visit, if that is what you wish. would be glad to get to know you better...

c-ya round

Karen said...

Now, THAT is interesting...The def of the word "posh." And thanks for clearing up the starboard/port thing for me!

I love how you take a situation and just totally create an awesome story out of it. One of the (many, many) things that keeps me from being a good writer is my lack of imagination. My mind is so boring. Not whining (maybe I am), but it's the truth!

An Ordinary Mom said...

Baby steps are the answer to many of life's problems. I think I will check our your writing tips for fun.

Shanna Blythe said...


Just to illustrate the concept of using an idea that you know other people have--Heroes.

The person who is the brain child of the new series Heroes thought it up and told his friend about it. His friend was like, "Dude haven't you ever heard of X-men" which in fact, he hadn't.

So he put the idea away for a while and then pitched it to the 'right' ears and now we have Heroes which feels nothing like X-men and is an intriguing television series and right now very popular.

Don't be afraid to go with your ideas-they might sound the same, but I bet they really aren't.

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